Global Sites: China
Keeping Love Alive in Hangzhou 2015
The children of Zhejiang Province continue to make Love an important habit-of-heart in the development of public and private school children. At Zhejiang University’s Affiliated School, students this year completed an integrated unit with drama, oral speaking skills, homework, art and music reinforcing the theme. They created a mock radio station with interviews about love, held a community theatre on the theme, conducted reading activities in class, and acted on the “I love my dad” challenge, drawing pictures, engaging dads in activities at home, and performing poetry and music about dads.
In a nearby Greentown school, students carried the project to the community service level by showing love for their human family, empathizing with children in a mountainous region who lack warm clothing and learning materials. They sacrificed blankets, clothing, spending money and toys to sell to reach out in love to these distant “brothers and sisters.”
We pass a caterpillar in the school yard. The caterpillar is not a furry one but is made of very young children, each one holding the waist of the next as they move quietly into the classroom. Inside, each one puts their own chair on the tape measured out in a square on the floor. Some are barely big enough to walk, but they work together cohesively, sharing space, each child patiently waiting for the next before settling the chair into a space. After hearing about a faraway place called America, they give their visiting foreign grandparent presents they have made. A self-portrait drawn by an American child is presented as their constant new companion, to share a new friendship with them. When their guest leaves, some come forward to offer kisses and hugs of immediate acceptance and love.
In the yard of many kindergartens, we see tiny farms where children grow vegetables. In the hallways, creative works—usually made of recycled materials—say as much about the dedication and energy of the teachers and parents as they say about the innate qualities of the students. It is no wonder that the teachers’ room at Fuyiu kindergarten bears the motto: “Work is love made visible.”
Creative works and photos abound at Greentown Schools as well. They illustrate the love between grandparents, parents, teachers and students. The best acts of love, however, require no materials, only time and concern. At one school, we enter a room crowded with tiny beds. Twenty sets of eyes look up with instant wonder. Nap time is ending for the two-year olds. A door opens and in rush the big “brothers and sisters,” now four years old, who each go directly to the bed of the child they care for each day as expertly as a well-practiced mother. They know the routine. They lay out the trousers and stuff the little legs into them. They place the shoes on the feet, first the right, then the left. They carefully tuck in shirts and put arms into coats and help the two-year old down from the beds. Next, the little ones help the littlest ones make up the beds with military precision.
It is no wonder that the children in these schools can apply their skills so well to honor grandparents on their special holiday for grandparents, that they can easily make friends and can show love for others in the family and in the community. Here, in a place with a one-child policy, the children have instead created one family, one very big family, and the ties go beyond blood ties. They are ties of deep, abiding love.
The Zhejiang Normal University College of Preschool Teacher Education sponsored its second Sino-American Full-Circle Learning conference , October 28-29 2010. At least 150 educators from throughout the province registered to hear presentations of classroom teachers who had mastered Full-Circle Learning processes in the classroom as well as experts on theory and practice.
One highlight of the conference was a presentation on earthquake relief at one of the university-affiliated schools, in which students practiced sacrifice, raising money for children in an affected community in a very systematic service project. The students practiced sacrifice, giving up their favorite toys, their pet silk worms and other items to organize a toy sale for earthquake victims. Heartwarming testimonials told how students as young as four years old carried out difficult tasks to improve life for others. Two year-olds participated by purchasing the toys, with their parents.
Another highlight of the conference was a moving dramatic presentation by students who reenacted a folk tale. In the play, a series of animals in a forest each found a gift of food on their doorstep and carried it to the next hibernating animal rather than eat it themselves, until the original carrot given to the rabbit ended up back at her own door.
Dr. Gan JianMei (Angela Gan), the character education director at the university, organized the conference and lectured on the basics of Full-Circle Learning. Other presentations considered the effects of holistic education on society, nurturing altruism in early childhood development, aspects of ecology and the spiritual journey of a teacher. Several days of school tours and a lecture at a Greentown primary school followed the conference.
The university was introduced to Full-Circle Learning five years ago. During this time, the research program has blossomed. The university has trained teachers in its own schools and invited teachers throughout the province to its workshops. Greentown Education System, a recipient of those services, has now conducted exchanges back and forth (with six principals visiting America in January 2010), and both organizations have applied many efforts toward adapting the model to the Chinese culture and customs. Teachers use university-adapted translations as a springboard for their own creative ideas.
With positive role models surrounding them, the children in these fine schools not only learn to face the world as future decision makers who will be trained academically but who will become benevolent leaders or better citizens, as members of one loving family.
The 2010 trip to China also included a school presentation and conference presentation at the International Conference on Process Philosophy, celebrating the Establishment of the China Process Society. This conference was held in Beijing, the city, where the first volume of a Full-Circle Learning book was also translated by Peking University Press.)
China to Haiti
FCL Global Site: China
One hundred teachers gathered in May 2009 to learn from master teachers how to better implement their Full-Circle Learning projects and strategies. This is a result of years of practice on the part of the leaders at the Hangzhou Preschool Teachers College at Zhejiang Normal University. After inviting several workshops and translating the Full-Circle Learning course materials for widespread use, the university taught the model in its programs for the past several years, incorporating strategies into its own kindergarten for 1000 students and also reaching out to teachers throughout Zhejiang province. Exchanges have taken place between American and Chinese teachers. Parents report that their children are affectionate and kind in addition to learning new skills as a result of the project.
Six Chinese principals will study Full-Circle Learning in the US in 2010. In August 2009, three new teachers were trained in the US to work in Chinese schools, to strengthen the link between FCL sites in East and West. A recent kindergarten report from translator Jacky Lee follows.
We are glad to tell you that our FCL project has made some new progress. In Fuyou, the kindergarten affiliated to Zhejiang University, three classes carried out a series of activities on the theme of courage, to help children solve their daily life problems such as partiality for a particular kind of food, being afraid of darkness, injection, projecting oneself before people, etc. Children made a lot of discussion and then made their own picture on ‘What is courage’, ‘What I will do when I feel scared’. And parents were surprised to find their children more and more courageous in many aspects.
The Greentown Kindergarten focused on the two themes: Patience and friendship, and they went well too. On 13th, May, they collaborated with Zhejiang University to hold a teacher training workshop which attracted nearly 100 teachers. After the teaching activities, Dr. Gan made a presentation on the topic of character education. On the whole, this workshop led the new teachers to some preliminary understanding of the FCL model....We are planning to hold more workshops, which may provide more participatory experiences.
We hold seminars twice a month to discuss and fix the themes of character education, to share teaching resources and strategies, and to analyze some related problems. The teachers of our team are found to grow fast as our project goes on. They have gained much more of the pleasure of growth, and they think their efforts are worthy, despite their desire to do more field research (including classroom observation and interaction with teachers). They are pleased to receive global exchanges from their partners.